Radix InstituteKey Concepts
Key Concepts Essential to Radix®
Pulsation: The Flow of the Radix or Life Force
The flow of the radix is the basis for all other Radix concepts. The Radix practitioner is always observing and working with this energetic flow. In particular its instroke or gathering in and its outstroke or moving out from the center. The gathering in of the radix to the center enables a sense of self contact or being centered. Grounding is the movement of this energy out to the legs, arms and eyes. This enhances contact with reality, the ability to stand firmly in oneself and to receive support from the world, including the ground.
Containment and Boundaries
When we need to contain our emotions, we need this life energy to be able to move to our periphery or edges to give us a sense of a container around our vulnerable core. Similarly when we need to protect ourselves from the energy of others, we need some of our life energy to move out to form a boundary.
Blocking of the Life Force
We learn to control the flow of our life energy to block the awareness and expression of emotions. Radix work helps free these blocks so that the energy pulsates freely. With this freedom comes an ability to know what one is feeling and to express it or contain it as appropriate.
For some people blocking this flow can be more difficult. People can feel overwhelmed by their emotions or feel there is no separation between themselves and others. Radix can assist people to become conscious of these processes so they can control the flow of the radix, containing emotions, building healthy boundaries or assisting people to be firmly grounded in life.
The Seven Segments
The body, in Radix theory, is divided into seven discreet segments. When the energy flows harmoniously and smoothly through these segments, we know what we are feeling and can express ourselves clearly, congruently and without ambiguity. An example of incongruity between the segments is seen when the mouth is smiling but the eyes look dead, or when the heart tells us to do one thing and the mind another.
Anger and Love, Pain and Pleasure, Fear and Trust
Another key concept is that the experience and expression of oppositional feelings have a relationship in the body. Only when we can open to our anger can we allow ourselves to express love. When we can feel our pain we can let into pleasure. And we can begin to trust when we are ready to know our fear. When we hold back one emotion we block the capacity to fully experience its opposite. This is because the energy for both anger and love moves out from the core or center of the body. When fear or trust is expressed, there is an inward movement towards the center. Pain and pleasure both pulsate in each direction.
The Eyes or Ocular Segment
An important concept in Radix work is that the eyes are not only used for seeing and communicating but also connect us into our emotional life and our fantasies, visions, dreams and spirit. When we connect with our inner life, the radix, or life force, is moving inwards. When it flows our eyes can express our feelings. We have all experienced ‘cold anger’ moving out from someone’s eyes. When the inward and outward flow of the radix is balanced, we can know our visions and dreams and express them in the world.
Similarly the eyes directly influence our perceptions. When the radix flows unhindered through the eyes, our perceptions and actions are more in tune with our outer reality and inner experience.
Pioneers of Radix® Neo-Reichian Bodywork
– Will Davis
Including the Body in Psychotherapy
Despite the potential problems of body psychotherapy, there are distinct advantages to body-oriented psychotherapy that makes significant contributions to the psychotherapeutic process.
The discussion of the relationship between the body and cognition focuses on a classic problem in psychotherapy—working through preverbal experiences. Body psychotherapy has, for many years, been working with not only the preverbal experiences within the psychotherapeutic setting, but also the nonverbal…positive and negative experiences that register in the organism and cannot be understood in the traditional cognitive, language-based narrative. It shows that pre-cortical experiences are registered in the brain and the body before the ability to reason and speech develops. And these experiences are “enduring.” In a body psychotherapy approach, these early, nonverbal, body-based experiences can be accessed, experienced in the present adult state in a safe environment, and thereby “known”. Sense can be made of these earliest of experiences but they do not necessarily have to be organized and explained in the normal intellectual formulation of verbal discourse between patient and therapist.
An example of this point is from a patient of mine. She was taking medication for panic attacks, had no work, no romantic relationships and had a dreamy, far away quality when she spoke or looked at me. This quality was represented in her body in a sexless formlessness. There was no definition or contours to the body, only a generalized, non-specific roundedness. She was 37, living with her parents and grandparents, and, in talking with her, there was an overall sense of distance and vagueness as if she wasn’t really there. At the end of a therapy session she stood up and said to nobody in particular, “I realize that I always wanted to be somebody!” In this case, she was able to “sublimate” her preverbal content; there was coherent verbalization. But how could she know this? Where did this sense of self come from? How could she formulate it so suddenly, so clearly? It didn’t come from a rational thought process. It came from the body’s preverbal, body-based self: Damasio’s protoself, Stern’s emergent self, Pagis’ “body as a pre-discursive self ”, Schore’s implicit self, and Davis’ endopsychic self. It emerged with content in the cognitive realm. She re-connected with an earlier, denied, unconscious sense of self rooted in the bodily experience; the embodied self. Because this body-based, early sense of self is not dependent on direct social interaction, a preverbal, unconscious autonomous sense of self emerges. When the patient says, “I realize I always wanted to be somebody”, she is a calling out to become the person she already knows that she is.
Cognitive and social psychologies have always viewed the self as language-based and located in cortical activity. [But] research implies that a sense of self exists pre-cortically. For example, some birds that do not have a cortex have been shown to be able to identify themselves in a mirror. The point is that there is a deeper sense of self than the social/relational self. Carl Rogers’ client-centered therapy is a good example of moving away from the emphasis on the relationship, and moving inward and focusing on the patient’s experience of herself within the relationship. In Rogers and in self-reflexivity there is not only a movement inward, but there is a profound somatic-based sense of self that is experienced. It is not a movement away from someone or some experience, it is a movement towards something—the somatic-based sense of self. Body psychotherapy is most helpful in reaching this pre-verbal, pre-relational, body-based self.